Longhorns overcome sluggish start, complete sweep of Cardinals

Wills Layton

Despite a slow start to the evening, the Longhorns came away with a pair of victories over the Incarnate Word Cardinals on Wednesday night, by scores of 5-2 and 8-0.

The team desperately needed to pick up two victories to reach 30 wins for the season, a benchmark that more often than not means a postseason berth. While the first win was much harder to achieve than the second, both epitomized how dominant and how sloppy the team has played in stretches this season.

“I thought we were sloppy to start and we can’t do that,” head coach Connie Clark said. “We’re better than that and we talked about it pregame before game one that it was going to be about the energy that we bring. I know that it’s a challenging time in terms of academics, but you have to be present.”

In the first game, the team looked like it would suffer a very inopportune defeat, as the Cardinals were leading by a run after the second inning. The Longhorns recovered to score four runs over the course of the game to earn the win.

The team performed much better in the second game, as the team shut out UIW and won the game in the sixth inning as the run rule came into play.

Junior ace Brooke Bolinger picked up the win in the second game, while all six Longhorn pitchers were able to record at least an inning on Wednesday. Having all of the arms receive some game time action is a great way for the team to prepare for this weekend’s series against No. 19 Baylor.

“It was tremendous,” Clark said. “I mean, I was really hoping we could get that done, especially the rookies. I mean, (freshman pitchers) Chloe (Romero) and Ariana (Adams), their time is going to come, but with such a large and solid pitching staff this year, it’s been hard to get them in the mix.”

The team’s turnaround in the second game came after a locker room meeting that contained a plea to clean things up on the field. From the results, it seems that talk worked.

“I thought they responded really well,” Clark said. “They turned it around, and that is what it’s all about is being able to flip it and respond. So good stuff with that.”

In a day when seemingly every player got a turn, the second game represented the final home game that the seniors on the team would play. Every senior got a chance to play a little in their home finale.

“It was great to see the seniors play well,” Clark said. “This was their last regular season game here in Austin and they felt that. It was great to see them go out on a high note. They all had good outings.”

The team will close out the season this weekend against Baylor and look forward to the Big 12 Softball Championship before the NCAA Tournament.